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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » What Happens in Vegas
What Happens in Vegas
Fox // PG-13 // August 26, 2008
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan | posted August 14, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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I'm not a betting man because I'm not a lucky man. The only time I've ever won anything over twenty dollars was at the dog track when I was a kid. I'd love to go to Vegas and throw a couple of dice around like I'm a big shot. Hell, I wouldn't mind going just to see the night sky lit up in electric neon. If I ever go against my better judgment I'll probably blow a fortune throughout the course of a single night, hoping my luck would change just once.

Jack Fuller (Ashton Kutcher) and Joy McNally (Cameron Diaz) are complete strangers from New York also trying to make their own luck after losing something important in their lives. Jack's unable to hold down a job even though his father is his employer. Joy got dumped in front of her friends while trying to kick off a surprise party for her fiancé. A little in common and a lot of booze turns these strangers into hung-over newlyweds. Kind of puts my luck into perspective! Once they've sobered up a little they decide What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so they decide to get their marriage annulled.

A friendly apology to each other quickly turns sour just moments before Jack hits a three million dollar jackpot. What's the catch? The quarter he used belonged to Joy. That doesn't stop Jack from trying to walk off with the check that's bigger than both their ego's though! Joy stops him in his tracks and reminds him they're still married and she's not about to let a fortune walk out of her life. A court judge rules that if they ever hope to see a single penny of the rewards reaped hours after saying their wedding vows in sloshed harmony, they'll have to see a wedding counselor and actually try to make the marriage work.

Predictably they do everything in their power to make the other quit before their court mandated six month trial is up. If one of them succeeds in breaking the other they can break their six month lease on love and walk off with the entire jackpot.

It's not a terrible premise for a film but I feel like I've seen something similar to this not that long ago. Does The Break Up ring a bell? Anyone? Strip the film down to its most primitive form and what do we get? It's a couple of people who are forced to deal with each other in the same apartment. The dirtiest tricks in the book are pulled out at no expense to make the other person suffer for some sort of personal gain. Straight from the romantic comedy 'how to' instruction manual, the film somehow emerges from its comedic cocoon to be a love story. It's just a shame the film is never as funny as it tries to be. Jack and Joy may suffer a lot through the film but even with my terrible luck, I'm definitely willing to bet the audience suffers more. Write me an e-mail if you have any collateral you want to put up and I'll split the winnings with you!

My biggest issues with What Happens in Vegas stemmed from its predictability and lack of originality. If you've seen one romantic comedy you've seen them all. I have no issues with romantic comedies in general. It's just that I've seen the same story a million times and I wish more directors would break out of the mold and make something that wasn't written from the chick flick guide book. If I'm able to sit down and tell my wife everything that's going to happen accurately over the next hour and a half then there's a problem. You may not feel as strongly about seeing the same movie with a different dress on time and time again but I can't find myself being entertained when there's not a single surprise in store for me.

There was one line from Dennis Miller that bothered me quite a bit as well. When talking down to Jack and Joy about their spur of the moment wedding there's something that sickeningly wreaked of social commentary. The comment was in reference as to how the current generation is what's ruining the sanctity of marriage and not gay people in love. The comment in my opinion rings very true but that's not the issue I have with it. It sort of felt like it was forced in the scene to either make a statement, or give Dennis Miller something that could make him sound like Judge Judy. I'd be willing to throw a little more money down to wager it was more about making a statement.

That's not to say everything about What Happens in Vegas is a disaster. Ashton Kutcher fits very well into this genre. He's very good at being a likeable prankster and he can certainly turn on the charm. We get a couple a great cameos with Dennis Miller as the judge. As sad as it sounds he was probably the best part of the entire film and he only had a couple of minutes of screen time.

I wish I could continue to even out the pros and cons but the list of what this movie has going for it ends there. Cameron Diaz has the same personality as every movie I've ever seen her in. Rob Corddry (The Daily Show) is brought on board as Jack's best friend and lawyer but is usually off the mark with his comedic offerings. In most romantic comedies the best friend character is one that comes along every once in a while to slap us in the face with some hilarious laugh out loud moments. I'm not even sure I was able to sputter a chuckle for Rob.

Granted, I'm presenting this from a guy's perspective. So what did I do as a dedicated reviewer? I actually sat down to watch this movie again. If you've seen this movie you already know how much I was putting on the line for you guys! However, I wanted to get a females perspective to see if I was being a little harsh. Mind you, my wife usually eats up any romantic comedy that's thrown her way. Take the same story and repackage it with a couple of different actors and wallah! She has to see it! After suffering through the snooze-fest that is What Happens in Vegas yet again, even she couldn't find any replay value.

It's fortunate I steered clear of this one when it was in the theaters. That means for this review however, that I can't tell you which scenes have been added or altered in this Extended Jackpot Edition.

Video

This was presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. Unfortunately this was a preliminary screener copy from Fox and was plagued with digital artifacts that made this almost unwatchable. I'm positive the retail release will be free of those issues, or at least most of them. The video rating will be left unmarked because of this and will be altered if I'm ever provided with a better copy in the future.


Audio

The sound wasn't bad but I didn't get anything too impressive from the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track. The rear channels were working and I got some decent bass during loud scenes that featured a lot of music. I can't give an accurate impression on just how good this will sound when it hits retail as again, this is a Fox screener copy which sounds pretty good but is sure to be better for retail. Also presented in surround are French and Spanish tracks, while subtitles are available in English and Spanish.


Extras

Commentary with Director Tom Vaughan and Editor Matt Friedman - Tom and Matt have a great time talking about making this movie. They start the commentary off with a bang and they're pretty excited to tell the audience what their experience was while filming. They reveal they had a forty-six day schedule to get this movie completely filmed which I'm sure accounted for some of that 'uninspired' feeling I got while watching. They taper off a little as time goes on and there are some moments of silence but all in all they get an impressive amount of talking done. After hearing what they had to say I know they tried with this movie, they really did. I'm sure that's going to be little comfort for you. It certainly didn't give me an hour and a half of my life back.

Sitting Down With Cameron and Ashton - This feature is around eight and a half minutes and features both Ashton and Cameron sitting down and talking to each other about their roles. It's actually amusing at times when they discuss the differences between men and women when it comes to deciding who to sleep with. It's refreshing to see them cut loose a little bit while chatting because it all starts out like a really lame attempt at a promo short. Cameron strikes again though because she's definitely talking for the camera most of the time instead of just being sincere. She over thinks a lot of what she's saying and how she's saying it while Ashton is really laid back.

DVD Extra Time with Zach Galifianakis - Just like the movie I felt this extra was completely uninspired. Zach has a couple of minute's worth of screen time in the film as one of Jack's awkward friends. He didn't add one iota to the film so it's sort of strange to see him sitting down to interview Tom Vaughan. This feature runs at just about eight and a half minutes.

From the Law Firm of Stephen J. Hader, Esq. - Rob Corddry sticks to what he knows best while doing a two and a half minute skit in character as Jack's friend Stephen. Rob is used to presenting intimately when it's just him and the camera so it's no surprise he does it very well here. Too bad he couldn't have been this entertaining throughout the entirety of the film.

Gag Reel - This is the best extra on the disc. In just over five minutes of footage we get a real feel for what it was like to be around the set. Everybody had an absolute blast filming What Happens in Vegas. When somebody goofs on a line everybody else gets in on the act.

Also included on this disc are trailers for Deal, Charlie Bartlett, and An Inside Look at "Marley and Me".


Overall

Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz were the two strongest aspects of a film that lacked any factor of working motivation. Everything was played safely by the numbers. Their chemistry came too little, too late, and couldn't save the rest of the film. The supporting cast was fairly non-existent and completely unmemorable. I know Vegas is about stepping outside of your shell and taking a chance but a movie shouldn't have to be left up to chance. There needs to be some thought and originality and a couple of leads that are there because they have good chemistry, not because they're what's hot in the latest US Weekly. Go ahead and skip it. The geniuses over in Hollywood apparently still can't figure out the intellect of their audiences and figure it's just fine and dandy to provide the same uninspired story time and time again. If there's a romantic comedy you haven't seen other than this one, then please go and rent it. At least the majority of the rest of the clones actually have a little chemistry between the lead roles.
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